Diesel prices dipped slightly in the week leading up to May
9, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. However, those lows weren’t
expected to stick around as oil prices began to climb with the coming of the
summer driving season.
The national average price for diesel fell 3.5 cents to
$2.227 per gallon, down from $2.262 the week before. That’s still more than 48
cents higher than prices for the same week in 2004.
California posted the highest average, at $2.518, in spite
of falling 4.3 cents from $2.561 the previous week. The rest of the West Coast
saw the biggest drop, falling 4.9 cents to $2.481 per gallon.
The smallest drop was in New England, which fell only 2.1
cents to $2.389 per gallon. The East Coast region posted $2.237 per gallon for
the week, while the Central and Lower Atlantic regions posted $2.342 per gallon
and $2.179 per gallon, respectively.
The lowest average was found in the Midwest, which fell 3.7
cents to $2.157 per gallon.
As for the remaining regions, the Gulf Coast posted a slight
drop to $2.173 per gallon, while the Rocky Mountain region came in at $2.318
Those dips were not expected to hold, however, as prices for
light, sweet crude rose back up above $50 a barrel on fears that U.S.
refineries might not have the capacity to keep up with demand this summer.
On May 9, light, sweet crude was trading at a high of $51.65
per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has raised
its output levels to nearly 30 million barrels a day, but experts say that
won’t matter if U.S. oil refineries can’t step up production levels.
One thing that could owner-operators survive
the summer driving season is the fuel surcharge provision currently making its
way through Congress. The provision was recently approved by the U.S. House as
part of its version of the highway bill.
Another version is currently making its way
through the Senate and is expected to be open for debate on the Senate floor
the week of May 9.
The language in the House bill – HR3 at
Section 4139 – requires all motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders
running truckload freight to implement fuel surcharges and pass on 100 percent
of those charges to the person who actually pays for the fuel.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers
Association is urging truckers to fax and call – writing may not be fast enough
– their U.S. senators and urge them to include the same fuel surcharge language
in the Senate’s version of the bill.
If truckers are uncertain who their senators
are, they can contact OOIDA’s Membership Department, and they will look up the
information. The toll-free OOIDA number is 1-800-444-5791.
Truckers can also call the U.S. Capitol
switchboard at (202) 224-3121, give the operator their ZIP code and be directly
connected to their senator’s office.